Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year! For friends and family near and far. For veterans serving and away from family, for all workers on the job today, thank you and season’s greetings.
From the year-in-review department, which is busy compiling its best-of lists for a post before the year concludes, I’ve got to pluck out a belated shout-out to the Wreaths Across America foundation and its work honoring veterans during the Christmas season.
As a former Mainer, I’ve watched the growth of the #WreathsAcrossAmerica phenomenon with a mixture of pride and awe. The tradition began when Maine wreath maker Morrill Worcester donated 5,000 wreaths to Arlington Cemetery and this year, a total of 1.2 million wreaths will be placed on markers across the country in 1,238 locations, according to the A.P.
“Each December on National Wreaths Across America Day, our mission to Remember, Honor and Teach is carried out by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as over 1,200 additional locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea, and abroad,” the website says.
The event has become a local story that generated headlines across many local publications and broadcast outlets. For example, WKYT in Kentucky reported on its local ceremony where volunteers laid more than 900 wreaths on the headstones of “fallen heroes in the largest Wreaths Across America ceremony in Camp Nelson’s history.”
It also got notices for who didn’t cover the wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on Dec. 16th. Janine Suppa of Arlington wrote this to the Washington Post letters section last week:
“As the daughter, granddaughter and niece of men who bravely served this great country, I participated in the fine tradition of Wreaths Across America on Dec. 16 at Arlington National Cemetery. Thousands of proud Americans, including children and the elderly, placed beautiful Christmas wreaths at gravesites and said aloud the names of those who gave of themselves for our freedom.
“It was a perfect day filled with patriotism and respect. Imagine my surprise on reading The Post and finding no mention of this tradition at Arlington but only a photograph of wreaths being placed in Erie, Pa. [Digest, Dec. 17]. Our brave men and women of the armed forces deserved more.”
The Wreaths Across America caravan traveled earlier this month from Columbia Falls, Maine, where the wreaths were made. The caravan went through several states before arriving in Arlington.
Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipient Roger Donlon and his wife, Norma Donlon were the grand marshals this year.
As Mainers say, it’s wicked cool.